Death and protest in Ferguson


The news coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, is like a generic racial conflict news story.

Police officer shoots unarmed black kid.  Police leak information indicating that the dead black kid was a bad person and the cop had reason to be scared.  The dead kid is unable to tell his side of the story.  Black people protest and maybe riot.  Public opinion is divided, based less on the facts than on whether your sympathies lie with a cop facing a scary black person, or a black person facing a scary cop.

This happens so often as to almost be routine.

It is true that every case is unique, that we the public are getting conflicting information, and that we may never know for certain what happened in the few minutes prior to Michael Brown being shot dead on the street.

As for myself, it would take a lot—A LOT—to convince me that a group of police had no better way to deal with an unarmed black person than to shoot him dead.

I do not claim to know whether Michael Brown was a nice young men headed for college, or a robber who stole cigars from a convenience store, but the worst case is not justification for a summary execution.

All this is a separate question from whether poor black people in general have bad attitudes (I’m sure a lot of them do) and also from the proper way for police to deal with protest and riot.  I think police have a responsibility to maintain order and prevent looting and destruction of property.  I also think that if you treat lawful protest as equivalent to riot, you increase the likelihood of riot.

Finally a question.  Ferguson reportedly is a city whose population is two-thirds black but yet has a white police force that is hostile to blacks.  How did this come to be?  Why hasn’t the black population of Ferguson been able to do something about this at the ballot box?

Even with all the difficulties being placed in the way of black people voting, this ought to be possible, and it would be a lot more effective way of achieving change.  If there is a reason why it isn’t possible, what is it?


Here are links to articles that, in my opinion, throw light on the situation.

White America Has Outlawed Existing While Black from Freethought Blogs.

I strongly recommend reading this post, and clicking on as many of the links as you have time for.  It describes the pattern of unequal justice of which Ferguson is a part.

After Ferguson, how should police respond to protests? by Radley Balko for the Washington Post.

 Radley Balko talks to enlightened police chiefs in various American cities about the best way to keep protests from getting out of hand.

Ferguson police department: The economic incentives that make cops harass black residents by Jacob Weissmann for Slate.

The Ferguson Police Department funds a large part of its budget by arresting, ticketing and harassing the city’s black population for minor offenses.

Reparations for Ferguson by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic.

Law-abiding black people have to be constantly aware of things I hardly ever have reason to think about.

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One Response to “Death and protest in Ferguson”

  1. Holden Says:

    I’ll give you my honest, ‘calling it as I see it’ opinion since I’m writing under a pen name. 🙂

    1. It seems hard to mobilize the black community, at least politically. I’ve read it is all but impossible to get them to go vote. This could be for a whole slew of reasons and might actually be more socio-economic than race driven.

    2. The black community has a lot of issues with poor culture. This is apparent when listening to pretty much any popular rapper. Stories about dad’s abandoning families, drug abuse, gun violence and so on are pretty much the status quo. In fact, I’d dare to say it is a measure of your “blackness” to many.

    3. Our police forces are out of control. I truly believe that cops will do anything in their power to cover up their own crimes and protect their own. Hell, I’ve even witnessed this in my very own community, where a cop shot a kid on sight, when he opened the door to his home, which the cop knocked on! An investigation happens, the cop turns out justified. The kid never had a weapon, never posed a threat, WASN’T EVEN A MINORITY! The cop is back on duty.

    It’s a shit sandwich. I see it as both sides have their issues. Neither are blameless. The cop was probably trigger happy or scared shitless patrolling such a crime ridden area, and Michael Brown was probably no real threat, but surely running his mouth and probably threatening the cop in the process.


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